Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

Ms. Yanagihara's A Little Life is one of my all time favorite books.  Her latest novel is going to be published early 2022.  In anticipation of that release, I wanted to read her debut novel, The People in the Trees.  While I did not enjoy it as much as A Little Life, it was interesting and well written.  

In the book, Norton Perina signs up with an anthropologist upon completion of medical school.  They go to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. What they find is a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. Perina encounters some personal problems when he returns to the island and adopts some of the members of the lost tribe.  This part of the book brings up controversy in his life.  The People in the Trees is so well written you will think that there's truth in the science behind the longevity cure.  

I will continue to bid my time until To Paradise is published.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

There were many parts of Untamed that I could relate to, as a divorced mom of three beautiful children.  I remember thinking to myself before my divorce... is this marriage one that I want to model for my family.  My answer was ultimately what ended my marriage.  There were parts of Untamed that found me learning how I unintentionally modeled gender roles for my children as a mom.  Mostly, Untamed found me agreeing with so much of what Glennon wrote and questioning a lot about society.  Please read for a thought provoking look at how to be brave.

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

It's been quite awhile since I've read an Amy Tan book.  Our Library's short story group read Two Kinds by her.  It's an interesting short story.  Anyway, The Kitchen God's Wife is a book about a secret, you could even say, a secret life.  Pearl's mom, Winnie, is given an ultimatum by Helen to tell her daughter about her past, even the parts that Helen doesn't know.  Winnie had a tough life, much more difficult than Pearl ever knew; especially since Winnie doesn't let on about her childhood and first marriage at all.  The Kitchen God's Wife is a telling of Winnie's story to her daughter.  A mother and daughter type of tale; that is bittersweet. It shows Winnie as  a strong woman who endured more than many.  And brings to light why Helen and Winnie are so close.  

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

Afterlife was our July book club read.  Most of the people that attended the meeting seemed to like the book.  It was a short book that has been long awaited by fans of Ms. Alvarez.  She is known for In the Time of Butterflies and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.  This new novel dealt with some large issues.  One of which is mental health and the other immigration.  Essentially about Antonia.  Her husband has died suddenly and she is finding herself dealing with her sisters, one sister specifically going through a mental health crisis and finding herself helping a farm worker bring his girlfriend to the United States.  Antonia has a lot on her plate, in addition to her grief.  She finds herself asking what her husband, Sam, would do in every situation she finds herself in when she has to make a decision. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was my most memorable pandemic read, so far. 

Alma Whitaker is the central character in Elizabeth Gilbert's novel.  There is so much to say about Alma--she is a botanist, like her father, but looks so much like her mother.  In looking like her mother, her marriage prospects are slim and this is the 1800's--so that's important.  By 1830, Alma is 30 years old.  However Alma doesn't marry just to marry and also there are no eligible men for her.  Her sister, and childhood friend take the only two possible suitors. 

Prudence, her adopted sister and her friend Retty, get married and move away from White Acre, the family homestead in Philadelphia.  Alma ends up helping her father with his multi-million dollar (today's money) businesses, after her mom dies.  She does meet someone--Ambrose Pierce who ends up marrying Alma.  But alas, it's not quite the happily ever after she had hoped it would be.  Alma exonerates Ambrose to Tahiti (not a bad place to end up).  There he will cultivate a vanilla plantation that her father set up years ago. 

Alma is a self sufficient, brilliant scientific woman whom I admire, even though she is fictional.  This book had me captivated from very early on.

I turned to reading Elizabeth Gilbert at this time because of a Ted Conversation I heard her host called "It's OK to feel overwhelmed. Here's what to do next".  I highly recommend listening/watching this.   This was early into the Coronavirus stay at home orders.  When I heard her speak, I thought, she is an articulate and brilliant person.  Why haven't I read more of her books?  So I began my WFH journey with The Signature of All Things

Not so long ago, I read City of Girls and of course, a longer time ago I read Eat, Pray, Love and then Committed:  a love story, her follow up to EPL.   I might go back and reread Committed to relearn more about Ms. Gilbert.  Anyway Elizabeth Gilbert, like Alma, I admire and I would jump at an opportunity for her to be my mentor.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is one of the best sociological studies about early nineteen century British loyalty and society I have ever read - where title, rank, fortune, and good looks are in many ways the requirements of an approved marriage, more so than love. In fact, this wonderful book might not be as relevant today as two hundred years ago, but there are still many traces of such societies throughout the world, today. It was not all that long ago in America, where marrying outside of your religion, or ethnicity, was looked down upon.

So much for the plot.  I think we are all familiar with it.  A classic, written in 1813.  An oldie, but goodie.  

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

Natalie, becomes the owner of the Lost and Found Bookshop after her mom passes away.  The bookshop is in trouble financially.  Trying to figure out a way out of the debt, Natalie discovers much about her past and her grandfather, Andrew, who raised her along with her mom. 

This book is like a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day.  It's comforting.  It reinforces why we have independent bookstores and just how important they are to our lives.